I don't always use my cell phone much. I'm in the office during business hours and I'm not one to talk on the phone when I'm out with other people. So I use my cell phone only for quick calls to touch base or to make meeting arrangements.
One day I decided to reduce my costs. But I also wanted to keep the same number and I didn't want to accept a lower quality of service.
So I did my research and narrowed it down to two prepaid cellular services. TracFone and NET10. As it turns out, TracFone owns Net10.
Both TracFone and NET10 offer prepaid airtime that can be added to the phone when needed. They both let you keep your unused minutes if you keep the service by adding more minutes before the expiration date.
I did some calculations and realized that I was paying 50¢ a minute with my old subscription service due to the fact that I used it so little and still had to pay the high monthly fees. There is no monthly fee with NET10.
You can have NET10 service for only $15 per month and get 150 minutes added to your service each month. What you don't use carries forward to cover you in those months when you might have a lot of usage. I suddenly needed to use almost 1000 minutes one month but I still paid just $15 since I had more than that from prior months that had rolled forward.
I had to update this blog because NET10 recently added several new prepaid plans, which makes them even more competitive. You can buy, say, 750 minutes for a 30-day period and save even more. 750 minutes for 30 days costs just $25. Do the math! That's less than 4¢ per minute!
I like the fact that with NET10 I only pay for the minutes I buy. In that sense there really is no monthly fee, if you look at it that way.
Any unused minutes roll forward, so if I have a high-usage month suddenly, I still don't pay extra since I'm just using the unused minutes that accumulated from prior months.
After a few years of using NET10, I already have over 5000 minutes in my account that added up from prior unused minutes.
There is one thing to keep in mind. You have to add more minutes and time before you use it up, otherwise you lose your service.
As long as you add minutes and time before time expiration, any unused minutes will carry forward.
If you really don't use it much, the best thing to do is register for the $15 a month automatic renewal. This is not a contract so it can be canceled at any time, but it gives you the security of keeping your service since it automatically adds 30 days and 150 minutes every month.
You can buy your NET10 phone in the store or from their web site. It works the same if you order over the Internet or if you buy one in a store.
The phone needs to be activated by adding minutes. The first time you do that, you can have a random local number assigned to the phone, or you can request to transfer your existing number from your present carrier.
Some phones include minutes. I selected one that included a camera, speakerphone, and 300 minutes. So I figured I would need to buy more minutes for a couple of months. That alone saved me money already in the first month.
The phone was shipped free (that offer of free shipping may end soon) in two days and then the fun part started. They allow one to check out the phone and return it if not happy. But I was delighted with the condition and features of my new phone. So my next step was to activate it.
When I make a decision I go all the way. So I decided to transfer my number rather than starting with a temp number. I could have transferred later if I wanted to. But they say it can take up to two weeks to transfer, so I wanted to get it started right away.
You can do it over the phone with customer service, which takes about 10 minutes on-hold until you get an agent. Or you can do it on their web site. I am comfortable doing things on my own, so I logged in on the site and entered all the info about my present AT&T service that they needed to initiate the transfer.
Lo and behold, exactly 17 minutes later they called me to tell me they had my number and all I need to do is activate the phone with the free 300 minutes that were included. Seventeen minutes!!! I found out later that it was transferred so fast because the service is really still handled by AT&T. For that matter, NET10 buys airtime in bulk from major carriers so they get a really great deal. That is how they can offer such a low price of 10¢ per minute.
If your prior service is not with AT&T it may take longer to transfer. That's because the RespOrg needs to be changed, RespOrg stands for Responsible Organization, which is the carrier who handles your number. In the worst case it should be done within 24 to 48 hours.
Okay, so I went through the steps of activation. The agent who called me gave me some codes to enter into the phone. It didn't work. She told me it will take time now for the codes to register and I should see the 300 minutes appear on the phone's display in 15 minutes. Never happened.
I called customer service and waited the standard 10-minute hold-time. The service reps are always very courteous, but I found out that they don't quite do everything right. The next service rep had me enter the same codes again. And again I was told to wait 15 minutes after that. Still no good.
I decided to try activating it on my own. I logged into my NET10 account online and followed the steps to enter the activation codes. It was a little different from what customer service reps had told me. This time when I completed it by following along online, the phone came to life immediately. No 15-minute wait at all!
My experience in over a year and also feedback from other customers reflects the same issue. NET10 customer service is really bad. The agents don't speak English very well and they always sound like they are looking up scripts or other information. They don't seem educated about the product.
I guess this was a business decision of NET10 management to save money. But I feel this is a really bad business plan. The product itself is exceptional! You can't find a better deal anywhere! I really mean that from my own experience.
It's a shame that they don't include that expertise along with the support team. I am sure this lack of proper support specialists creates a bad reflection on the company and it most certainly must impact their bottom line with sales. But that is to their disadvantage. I'm still sticking with the product because it saves me money and it always works when I need it.
For the price, I guess you get what you pay for. And the bad part is only with the customer service anyway, not with the product itself.
I started out making some phone calls to and from the phone to test it out. No problems whatsoever. The came the big surprise. I tested calling my cell and not answering. I heard my voice mail greeting and it let me leave myself a message. But I never set up my voicemail yet! It was already setup and had my greeting that I had recorded back when I was with AT&T. That's how I know the service for NET10 is really AT&T.
If you transfer from Verizon, Alltel or T-Mobile it may be the same thing. These are all the carriers that NET10 buys airtime from. And when you use NET10 you actually share all the towers so you get the best signal of whatever carrier is the strongest where you are. How cool is that!
Texting is charged by deducting half a minute per text message you send or receive. That's not bad. But don't try web browsing or sending pictures by e-mail from your phone. The data stream will eat up your minutes real fast. I tried it and the minutes seemed to count down in seconds. That's because they charge by the amount of data. My advice is, if you have a need to do large data transfers, don't consider a prepaid service. If that is your thing, go get an unlimited data subscription plan.
NET10 is great for those who use the cell phone only for talking and not much of it. My $200 per year for service is good enough for over half an hour of chatting on weekends. Actually more like 40 minutes to be exact, 20 minutes on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. That is a $200 price tag for a whole year of NET10 service.
Or if you like subscriptions, NET10 will give you 150 minutes per month with rollover and charge your credit card just $15 each month. That comes out to about the same thing. And you never have to worry. That's not a contract. You can cancel anytime and take your number with you.
If you accidentally start the web browser, the best thing to do is shut the lid if you have a flip phone. I have done that a few times and fumbled or the end key in panic. I found that flipping the phone shut stops it before any minutes are deducted if you do it fast enough.
There is a way to disable the web browser on some phones. Select SETTINGS then SECURITY then LOCK APPLICATION. Select the Browser and lock it. Then if you hit the browser key after that it will ask for a phone lock code.
The tables below show the many options available with airtime cards for NET10. Amazon usually has better deals, as you can see in the Amazon offer box at the right.
NET10 also offers unlimited minutes for $50 a month. Again with absolutly no contract!
If you don't like to keep track of adding airtime when needed, you can sign up for a monthly plan. You still have the security of avoiding a contract since you can cancel anytime.
This is a great method to use so you never have to think about buying airtime cards and adding the minutes to your phone. If your present usage is no more than 150 minutes per month and you are paying your carrier $40 or $50 or more, then this subscription service will reduce your monthly payments to $15. And if you have a sudden high-usage month down the road, you may not even pay extra because you will have accumulated roll-over minutes that keep adding up. Your NET-10 phone will always show you how many minutes you have accumulated and have available.
I give NET10 five stars. I'm happy I switched. I only wish I did it a long time ago.
NET10® is a registered trademark of TracFone Wireless, Inc